Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein Mayor accused of 'abusing position' after holding Easter Rising commemoration event

Brenda Chivers hosting the first Easter Lily launch at Causeway Coast and Glens Council. Credit: Sinn Fein.
Brenda Chivers hosting the first Easter Lily launch at Causeway Coast and Glens Council. Credit: Sinn Fein.
Sinn Fein mayor Brenda Chivers
Mark Edwards

By Mark Edwards

A Sinn Fein Mayor has been accused of "abusing her position" after holding an event to commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising on council property.

Unionist councillors have hit out at Brenda Chivers who used the Mayor's parlour at Causeway Coast & Glens Council to host the event on Wednesday evening.

The Easter Lily event was attended by Sinn Fein council candidates, MLAs and republican activists from the area.

UUP councillor Darryl Wilson said that a Mayor should not use their position to promote "any political message" and said he had contacted senior council officials to lodge a complaint and seek answers as to why the event was allowed to take place.

He added: “I am also aware that one of the speakers referred to ‘the memory of our patriot dead across Counties Derry and Antrim’ and how ‘Their ultimate sacrifice continues to inspire us daily on our path to Irish Unity.’

“That is not referring to the dead of 1916 who were nowhere to be seen in counties Londonderry and Antrim.

"The people of Coleraine and the surrounding areas are only too well aware of the murderous and criminal deeds of the type of republican ‘patriots’ which Sinn Fein are so fond of eulogising."

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Sinn Fein mayor Brenda Chivers

The IRA bombed Coleraine in 1973, murdering six pensioners and injuring 33 people. The IRA member who planted the bomb, Sean McGlinchey, currently serves on the council.

The terrorist group also bombed Coleraine town centre in 1992.

The Easter Rising was an armed insurrection launched by Irish republicans to end British rule in Ireland and establish an independent Irish Republic. The rebellion was suppressed by the British Army.

DUP deputy Mayor Trevor Clarke said his party were also seeking answers from council officials about how the event was notified and organised.

“Councillors – including the Mayor – are bound by a Code of Conduct which states elected members cannot use council resources ‘improperly for political purposes'," he said.

"It is clear from the Sinn Fein banners on display in the Mayor’s Parlour this was precisely an event of a political nature, staged two weeks before a local government election. No party should politicise what is neutral civic space.

The Mayor has abused her position and demonstrated total disregard for the office she currently holds. DUP deputy Mayor Trevor Clarke

“This is unacceptable and we are seeking further facts from council’s chief executive ahead of deciding how best to pursue this matter. It is a serious breach of protocol and must be investigated and dealt with as such.”

In a statement Ms Chivers said it was an "honour" to host the event but did not address the criticism from unionist councillors.

"Easter is the most important date in the Republican calendar; it is a time when we gather right across Ireland and beyond, to remember and commemorate those men and women, throughout the generations, who gave their lives in pursuit of Irish freedom and independence," she added.

“The 1916 Proclamation remains the mission statement for Irish republicans today.

“It is a freedom charter for all the people of this island which guarantees religious and civil liberty and promotes equal rights and opportunities for all citizens."

Causeway Coast and Glens Council has yet to respond to a request for comment.

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